Theory of Mind / Father and Divorce Labs (Fabricius)

Theory of Mind / Father and Divorce Labs (Fabricius)
Keywords: theory of mind; social cognitive development; divorce; fathers; parent-child relationships
Lab Area
Developmental Psychology
Lab Director
William Fabricius, PhD
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

Theory of Mind                                  

The Theory of Mind Lab is working to solve a potentially serious, but overlooked, problem with the standard tasks used to assess young children's understanding of false beliefs. These same tasks have been used to study theory of mind in infants and chimpanzees. The problem is that a confound in the tasks makes the interpretation of correct answers ambiguous and obscures a developmentally intermediate way of reasoning about the mind.  The resolution of this problem will have theoretical implications for how children's theory of mind develops and for how theory of mind has evolved, and practical implications for interventions with autistic individuals.   Other theory of mind topics include young children’s early linguistic references to mental states, and school-age children’s and high schoolers’ understanding of the interpretative nature of mental processes and how that relates to their understanding of conflict and their aggressive behavior. 

Father & Divorce

We are particularly interested in the impact of father-child relationships on the long-term health of the children and have been conductin research in the NIH-funded longitudinal study of the role of fathers and stepfathers in adolescent and emerging adult development. In other projects with divorced families, we also study the long-term effects of the father-child relationship, parent conflict, and visitation arrangements on children. Dr. Fabricius is focused on the implications this research can have for social policy.

Part 1:  My Research on Divorce and Fathers: “Equal parenting time is a public health issue.”

Part 2Working with the Arizona Legislature and Courts to Change the Law: “It’s democracy and it’s science, and it works.”

Part 3Parent Conflict and Equal Parenting Time: “What reassures the child in the face of parent conflict is extra time and attention from both parents.”

Part 4Full Circle: “ASU students told me 18 years ago they wanted equal parenting time, we changed the law to give them equal parenting time, and now we can determine the causal impact of the law change on their mental and physical health. If you’ve got an idea, you can change the world.”

Lab Director & Principal Investigator: William Fabricius, PhD, Associate Professor

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